My “Best” Self, Time Keeping in the Post-Apocalyptic World, and Other Questions No One Asks But Me

watch

I forgot my watch today.  That is rather vexing, even though I can make the argument that the habit of wearing a timekeeper on one’s person is rather archaic and quaint. I very seldom forget to wear a watch.  It became habit when I was in elementary school (way before the days of smart phones or computers) because it was necessary for me to know the time, 1.) when I went home for lunch and had to be back at school, so I didn’t screw around too long on the way back (I don’t know of any elementary schools today that let kids leave for lunch, but that was a different time) and 2.) if Grandma was going to pick me up after school, I would know she would be there at exactly 3:00, and that I had better be right out front next to the oak tree and not messing about on the playground.

vintage timex

The watch I wore from the time I was 9 years old until I was in college was a wind-up Timex (good luck finding one of those, but I still have it, and it still works.)  Today I generally wear a Timex digital watch (I have a few) or the really nice Fossil analog watch (talk about archaic, though this one does have a battery) I reserve for non-casual occasions.  I don’t know why I hang on to that rather dated custom- there’s a freaking clock in the car for heaven’s sake, not to mention on the cell phone and on the computer screen.  If I really need to know what time it is that bad, the current time is everywhere.

The impulse to always have a watch on reminds me of “Rainman’s” obsession to always buy underwear at K-Mart.  Not everyone on the autistic spectrum is OCD, (and I’m not) but I do remember as a kid I did NOT like having my schedule or routine changed at all, unless I was the one changing things.    I still don’t like other people screwing up my itinerary, but the older I get, I tend to be a lot more flexible.

It really doesn’t matter in the broad scheme of things, but people like me tend to get hung up on some really weird shit sometimes.   Perhaps it is a lame attempt for me to maintain some sort of continuity in an increasingly unpredictable world.

This country may be going to hell in a handbasket as the new Louis and Marie strut about as if they are royalty, as they stomp on the Constitution, squander taxpayers’ money, take their Hawaiian vacations and pontificate from their ivory tower, but at least I’ll know what time it is.   I can even set the chronometer, should I need to call 911 and want to know how long the cops take to get there.

Louis and MarieI couldn’t help it.  This reference to B.O. and Moochelle as the new Louis and Marie was too much NOT to share.  Sad thing is, this is NOT France.

Since I am painfully aware of not having a watch on my wrist, the thought came to mind, when would it really be imperative to have a watch on to know what time it is?  After the apocalypse- when there are no more computers or cell phones or cars?

At that point, when my immediate surrounding area resembles something out of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, who would give a rat’s ass about the time?  It would always be half-past ass whupping time, right?

There is a politically correct phrase I’ve heard that teachers use to “encourage” the children they teach, and for the most part I loathe it: “Be your best self today.”

WTF?

Can I be my shitty self tomorrow?

best selfThis is about as far as the “best self” train is going to go today.

I’m sorry, but the way I grew up was that it was either tow the line or get a boot up your ass.  I think that’s part of the problem with kids today, that parents and teachers are afraid to challenge them.  I can think positive all day and blow sunshine out my poop chute, but unless I actually do something positive it really doesn’t matter, does it?

r lee ermeyKids today need less mollycoddling and more boot camp.

Now I do like some of the suggestions here, even though the author of the post uses that phrase.  I think I will strike up a conversation with a complete stranger for shits and grins, or do something completely spontaneous just because I can.  Some of her suggestions are a tad bit more challenging, such as telling someone you love how much you love them.  I have emotions- I think- but I’m not very good at sharing them.

loathing

Is it just me, or am I the only one who thinks it to be bad manners to make a take home plate at a funeral wake?  I went to a calling hours and wake last week for a friend of mine whose father had died.   The departed was Irish, and there was plenty of liquor, so it really was a proper Irish wake.  Since we belong to a group of Lutheran church ladies, we had all brought enough chow for three armies too.

Jerry actually had the cojones to ask me if I’d fixed him a plate when I got home.

Granted, there was more than enough food and nobody would have missed it if I would have made Jerry a plate, but if you don’t at least go to the wake and pay your respects to the departed, then what gives you the right to go munching on their chow?

This is the message that action sends: “Gee, sorry about your Dad, too bad I was too busy drinking beer and watching the Big 10 channel to show up for his wake, but can my wife set me up with a doggie bag?”

I know Jerry was raised by wolves, but methinks requesting a doggie bag from a wake is a bit much.

For All the Saints, Fanning the Flames, and a Limited Time Offer

I know that here lately I have been rather drawn to the macabre.  It seems that around Halloween (when the seemingly endless Central Ohio winter effectively begins) and also toward the end of February (when the even more depressing season of Snowbooger Grey sets in) I get obsessed with the issue of mortality- mine, and that of others. 

It doesn’t help that Saturday I had to attend the wake (and yes, it was an actual Irish Catholic wake, complete with noise, a plethora of friends, relatives and assorted others, enough food for an army and then some, and plenty of whiskey and beer) of a dear older lady who I was both surprised and delighted to call a friend.  Then Sunday (which had almost completely slipped my mind) was All Saints’, which is one of the hardest days of the year for me to go to church.  I need to do that- especially on the difficult days- but it’s very hard for me to make a conscious effort when I know I will be streaming tears uncontrollably the whole time.  I don’t handle public displays of emotion well at all.  The whole idea behind All Saints’ is to remember those who have gone before us, which has been especially difficult for me since Grandma died. 

Sadly, I don’t spend enough time with people I care about.  I would have liked to have talked with her one more time, but I missed the opportunity.  I am reminded yet again how temporary life is, and how the people I want to see and talk with a little while longer might not be there the next time I think of them.

It might seem strange, for someone like me who isn’t terribly social and isn’t really into superficialities, that I am so neglectful of the very few close relationships I have.  It’s actually rather pathetic that I avoid human contact to such an extreme.  I have enough excuses- overwork and babysitting Jerry are probably the two biggest drains on my time and energy- but excuses are exactly that.  I don’t make the time.  Even though I do cherish people I deem to be friends, being around people wears me out.  I know it sounds superficial and selfish, but I really have to be intentional regarding who I socialize with, and with how much time I spend being in the company of others.  Otherwise I get stretched too thin and get emotionally and physically exhausted. 

Over the years I’ve discovered I need solitude not only to get my head straight and to make some sense of my fractured and often puzzling emotional life, but I also have a genuine physical need to take that ivory tower time.  Leave me alone and let me regenerate.  Often.  The bad thing is that I don’t get nearly enough opportunity for such regeneration, so I take it where I can get it.   Otherwise I will get physically ill, and end up being forced to stop and get away.

As much as I found it necessary to go to our friend’s wake, I paid for it in terms of just plain coming home depleted.  I don’t know if my exhaustion had to do with trying to keep Jerry out of too much trouble (he almost killed an entire 30 pack of Natties) or just from needing to get away from people for awhile.  Perhaps a combination of both?

Maybe I really am one of those people who would be better off out in the middle of nowhere with sparse company other than books, music and dogs.  It’s been way too long since I was able to be left alone long enough to read a novel (and I do have what promises to be a good novel on the way- 11-22-63 by Stephen King.)  It doesn’t take me long to read a novel – even Stephen King’s novels, which tend to be lengthy- but it seems I am constantly being interrupted with Jerry being unable to get his own pills, being unable to shut up late at night, and constantly whining about his shirts or this or that or the other thing. 

Maybe it’s not fair of me to expect Jerry to take care of himself like a normal adult.  Sadly I have been party to his Helplessman routine for many years, so how can I expect him to take his own pills, iron his own shirts, and keep himself from drowning in the toilet when he’s shitfaced?

I know I am no paragon of virtue by a long shot, but I admit I get tired of the babysitting.  It’s hard to put my foot down because Jerry is incredibly emotionally fragile.  He gets on my nerves, yes, but he’s a lot worse when he gets either shitfaced and/or in temper tantrum mode.  Sadly, he has learned (just like a toddler) that the tirades are a form of blackmail.  “Appease me or I’ll go off again” is the mentality.  While I know that it’s a fruitless endeavor to keep on feeding alligators, way too much of the time I simply cave in and let him have what he wants so he will shut up.  Especially if I’m tired and/or he’s drunk.  The irony here is that in the end I’m just rewarding him for whining.  Unlike a toddler, when Jerry starts in with the whining and tirades, I can’t take him to the ladies’ room and warm his behind.

I know all too well that life is a limited time offer.  I shouldn’t be so harsh with Jerry, even though I lose my patience with the helpless act and with the gambling and drinking.  I know I should cherish whatever time we have even though he does try my patience and dealing with his behavior can be quite draining.

I’ll have time to sleep when I’m dead.  Hopefully somewhere along the way I’ll find time for the Stephen King novel.